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Learning Dutch

The Netherlands is well known for it's citizens command of foreign languages, with most people speaking good to fluent English when they need to. That being said, English is not the language heard on the streets (except in some parts of Amsterdam), it's not the language newspapers are written in, and it's not the language your Dutch classmates will be using among themselves.

Fulbright alumni who have spent an academic year in The Netherlands:

Jonathan Rhodes Lee: 'Though it is not necessary to learn Dutch to be able to function in The Netherlands, it is not only culturally polite to learn the language, but will make your own experience a much easier and richer one.'

Kelly Fonteijn: 'People in shops or governmental offices treat you differently if you speak Dutch with them. I've noticed that they smile more, deal with me in a more relaxed manner, and are more eager to help. In the past, when I only used English, a lot of people seemed to dismiss me as a pesky American tourist.'

Tammy Nyden-Bullock : 'Despite what you will be told about everyone speaking in English in Holland, if you want to make good friends with Dutch people, learn the language. I found that there is a segregation between Dutch students and international students and language can help bridge this gap.'

English is widely used in universities and among academics, but once you visit the rural areas, you will find people who speak little or no English. If you intend to use questionnaires in Dutch or wish to interview a non-academic population, it is recommended to take language classes. Many Dutch universities offer Dutch language courses for their foreign students. Another place to look is the local Volksuniversiteit. Volksuniversiteiten are community education centers that offer language classes, excursions, and lectures. Most students in these classes are recent immigrants to The Netherlands. Some Fulbright scholars have enjoyed the opportunity these classes offer to get to know non-students and people from other countries.

For university courses, see the following link:
For Volksuniversiteiten, see the following link: volksuniversiteiten
(you will need some Dutch to navigate the site)

The mentioning of the following institutions does not mean the Fulbright Center endorses these institutions.

Other Dutch language courses

(this list is not comprehensive)

In Amsterdam

Instituut voor Nederlands als Tweede Taal (Institute for Dutch as a Second Language)

British Language Training Centre

Mercuur Taal

Dutch and such

In Den Haag and Environs:

Direct Dutch B.V.

Kickstart School

In Leiden

Talencentrum at Leiden University
Talencentrum at Leiden University
Highly rated courses.

In Rotterdam

Dutch Language Institute ITHA
Dutch Language Institute

Recommended self-study books:
Beginner's Dutch, by Gerdi Quist and Dennis Strik Colloquial Dutch, by Bruce Donaldson

On-line resources:

On-line courses: or